Suspicious "Voting Violation" Mailings Hit Iowa

The much-awaited Iowa caucuses are coming up on Monday and presidential candidates across the board are on high alert.

The Iowa caucuses are the first time in the election cycle that actual voters will have their say, and it’s important for candidates to make a good showing. A strong performance in the caucus can help translate into a showing of strength in the general election, so candidates have a serious interest in getting voters to the polls. That may be why some local voters claim to have received this notice in the mail:

Twitter user Michael Tracey posted this notice, allegedly sent out to Iowa voters by the Ted Cruz campaign. The notice, which reads “VOTING VIOLATION” at the top, is addressed to an Iowa resident because of “low expected voter turnout” in her area. The notice rates her history of voting turnout (and that of her neighbors) as an “F” — and warns that she should “caucus on Monday to improve [her] score” and encourage her neighbors to do the same. It also has a nice little disclaimer at the bottom that voter turnout history is a matter of public record, in case anyone wanted to get angry about their voting history being broadcast to neighbors.

Whether or not you’ve voted is a matter of public record, but who you vote for is nobody’s business but your own. The notice sent out is raising eyebrows by making voter histories an object of public shame (“Tina hasn’t been out to vote for 10 years? What business does she have telling me about gun control, then?”) and by attempting to scare voters with a “violation” notice. While most adult American citizens do have the right to vote, that right is not an obligation. Despite the frightening language, there are no penalties if you choose not to cast a vote.

Notices of this sort are a time-honored, if questionable, tradition. According to The Hill, in 2012, a conservative group called Americans for Limited Government sent a similar notice to voters in several states. And in 2014, a USA Today affiliate reported on a different group sending out flyers with voting records to Florida residents. In both instances, voters were unhappy with the dissemination of their information.

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